The large, powerful sculptures of Lyman Kipp were part of the Primary Structures movement in the 1960s, that transformed the way sculptors worked, and the way in which sculpture was viewed in America. The Constructivism movement, that began in Moscow in the 1920s, espoused the idea that art should be created for the benefit of society and that artists should be involved in industrial design and construction. It viewed the artist as a creator, designer and constructor.
The simplicity of design of the Constructivists had a profound effect on the De Stijl movement in the Netherlands and the Bauhaus movement in Germany during the 1920s and ‘30s. Artists in the United States were slowly embracing the ideas of constructivism and minimalism, but it took a group of artists, including Kipp, to change the way artists, and the public, create and view art.
Kipp was born in Dobbs Ferry, New York in 1929. He studied at Pratt Institute in New York and then went on the study and teach at the Cranbook Academy in Michigan. He began making large, steel and aluminum sculptures in the 1960s, that had to be transported and welded together on site. He worked in spare, geometric shapes and primary colors.
In 1966, the Jewish Museum in New York organized the Primary Structures exhibit, showing large, minimal style works by young American and British sculptors. The show was a huge success, and got rave reviews by art critics, including those of Time and Newsweek. In an effort to get continued recognition, a group of American sculptors, including Lyman Kipp, founded an artist-owned gallery called, ConStruct. They organized exhibitions throughout the United States to promote their large-scale sculptures.
The pieces we have in our gallery are maquettes, preliminary models that Kipp made before he built and assembled his huge, finished sculptures. In addition to painting and creating sculptures for public spaces, Kipp dedicated his life to art education. He taught at Bennington College in Vermont, Hunter College in New York and became the chairman of the art department at Lehman College in New York.
Kipp’s works are part of the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Lyman Kipp died in Bonita Springs, Florida on March 30, 2014, leaving a legacy of his work in parks and public spaces around Florida and other states throughout the U.S.